DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran successfully tested a new precision-guided ballistic missile, Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan was quoted as saying on Sunday, signaling an apparent advance in Tehran's attempts to improve the accuracy of its missile battery.

"The Emad missile is able to strike targets with a high level of precision and completely destroy them," state news agency IRNA quoted Dehghan as saying.

Anthony Cordesman, a researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in January that the Emad would have a range of 1,700 km (1,060 miles), 500 meters accuracy and a 750 kg (1,653 pound) payload.

It is a variant of the liquid-fueled Shahab-3 missile, in service since 2003, which has a similar range but is accurate only to within 2,000 meters.

"The Emad represents a major leap in terms of accuracy. It has an advanced guidance and control system in its nose cone," Israeli missile expert Uzi Rubin said.

Dehghan said the new weapon would be deployed to missile units in the "near future".

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem; writing by Sam Wilkin; editing by David Clarke)